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The Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

The Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

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The Johann Sebastian Bach biographyThe Johann Sebastian Bach biog
 
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(b Eisenach, 21 March 1685, d Leipzig; 28 July 1750)(b Eisenach, 21 March 1685, d Leipzig; 28 July 1750)http://www.kunstderfuge.com/bios/bach.htmlhttp://www.kunstderfuge.com/bios/bach.html Composer and organist. The most important member of the family, hisComposer and organist. The most important member of the family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supremegenius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technicalcreative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control are perfectly balanced. While it was inmastery and intellectual control are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime hethe former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues andacquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that by the end of the 18th centuryaccomplishments, as a composer, that by the end of the 18th century earned him a unique historical position. His musical language wasearned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together anddistinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievementssurmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements of his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectivesof his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectives which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of  ways.ways.The first authentic posthumous account of his life, with a summaryThe first authentic posthumous account of his life, with a summary catalogue of his works, was put together by his son Carl Philippcatalogue of his works, was put together by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel and his pupil J.F. Agricola soon after his death and certainlyEmanuel and his pupil J.F. Agricola soon after his death and certainly before March 1751 (published as Nekrolog, 1754). J.N. Forkel plannedbefore March 1751 (published as Nekrolog, 1754). J.N. Forkel planned a detailed Bach biography in the early 1770s and carefully collecteda detailed Bach biography in the early 1770s and carefully collected first-hand information on Bach, chiefly from his two eldest sons; thefirst-hand information on Bach, chiefly from his two eldest sons; the book appeared in 1802, by when the Bach revival had begun andbook appeared in 1802, by when the Bach revival had begun and various projected collected editions of Bach's works were under way; itvarious projected collected editions of Bach's works were under way; it continues to serve, together with the 1754 obituary and the othercontinues to serve, together with the 1754 obituary and the other 18th-century documents, as the foundation of Bach biography.18th-century documents, as the foundation of Bach biography.BiographyBiography1. Childhood1. Childhood2. Luneburg2. Luneburg3. Arnstadt3. Arnstadt4. Muhlhausen4. Muhlhausen5. Weimar5. Weimar6. Cothen6. Cothen7. Leipzig, 1723--97. Leipzig, 1723--98. Leipzig, 1729--398. Leipzig, 1729--399. Leipzig, 1739--509. Leipzig, 1739--50IconographyIconography
 
 Notes on Bach's music (extracts)Notes on Bach's music (extracts)Organ musicOrgan musicMusic for harpsichord, lute etc.Music for harpsichord, lute etc.Chamber musicChamber musicOrchestral musicOrchestral musicCanons, Musical Offering, Art of FugueCanons, Musical Offering, Art of Fugue 
1. Childhood.1. Childhood.
The parents of Johann Sebastian were Johann Ambrosius Bach (11)The parents of Johann Sebastian were Johann Ambrosius Bach (11) and Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt (1644–94), daughter of a furrier andand Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt (1644–94), daughter of a furrier and town councillor in Erfurt, Valentin Lämmerhirt (d 1665). Anothertown councillor in Erfurt, Valentin Lämmerhirt (d 1665). Another Lämmerhirt daughter became the mother of Bach’s cousin J.G.Lämmerhirt daughter became the mother of Bach’s cousin J.G. Walther, suggesting that Lämmerhirt blood was perhaps notWalther, suggesting that Lämmerhirt blood was perhaps not unimportant for the musical talents of the Bach family’s greatest son.unimportant for the musical talents of the Bach family’s greatest son. Elisabeth’s elder half-sister Hedwig Lämmerhirt was the second wife of Elisabeth’s elder half-sister Hedwig Lämmerhirt was the second wife of  Ambrosius Bach’s uncle, Johann Bach (4), organist of theAmbrosius Bach’s uncle, Johann Bach (4), organist of the Predigerkirche in Erfurt. Elisabeth and Ambrosius, who had worked inPredigerkirche in Erfurt. Elisabeth and Ambrosius, who had worked in Eisenach since 1671 as Hausmann and also as a musician at the ducalEisenach since 1671 as Hausmann and also as a musician at the ducal court of Saxe-Eisenach, were married on 8 April 1668, and had eightcourt of Saxe-Eisenach, were married on 8 April 1668, and had eight children, five of whom survived infancy; as well as Johann Sebastian,children, five of whom survived infancy; as well as Johann Sebastian, the last, these were three sons (nos.22, 71 and 23) and a daughter,the last, these were three sons (nos.22, 71 and 23) and a daughter, Maria Salome. The date of Johann Sebastian’s birth, 21 March 1685,Maria Salome. The date of Johann Sebastian’s birth, 21 March 1685, was carefully recorded by Walther in his Lexicon, by Sebastian himself was carefully recorded by Walther in his Lexicon, by Sebastian himself  in the family genealogy, and by his son as the co-author of thein the family genealogy, and by his son as the co-author of the obituary. It is supported by the date of baptism (23 March; theseobituary. It is supported by the date of baptism (23 March; these dates are old-style) in the register of St Georg. His godfathers weredates are old-style) in the register of St Georg. His godfathers were Johann Georg Koch, a forestry official, and Sebastian Nagel, a GothaJohann Georg Koch, a forestry official, and Sebastian Nagel, a Gotha Stadtpfeifer. The house of his birth no longer stands; it is not theStadtpfeifer. The house of his birth no longer stands; it is not the handsome old structure (Frauenplan 21) acquired by the Neuehandsome old structure (Frauenplan 21) acquired by the Neue Bachgesellschaft in 1907 as the ‘Bachhaus’ and established as a BachBachgesellschaft in 1907 as the ‘Bachhaus’ and established as a Bach Museum. He would have been born in the house in the FleischgasseMuseum. He would have been born in the house in the Fleischgasse (now the Lutherstrasse) that Ambrosius Bach bought in 1674 after(now the Lutherstrasse) that Ambrosius Bach bought in 1674 after gaining Eisenach citizenship.gaining Eisenach citizenship.After the time of the Reformation all children in Eisenach were obligedAfter the time of the Reformation all children in Eisenach were obliged to go to school between the ages of five and 12, and (although there isto go to school between the ages of five and 12, and (although there is no documentary evidence of it) Sebastian must have entered one of no documentary evidence of it) Sebastian must have entered one of  the town’s German schools in 1690. From 1692 he attended thethe town’s German schools in 1690. From 1692 he attended the Lateinschule (as had Luther, also an Eisenach boy); this offered aLateinschule (as had Luther, also an Eisenach boy); this offered a sound humanistic and theological education. At Easter 1693 he wassound humanistic and theological education. At Easter 1693 he was 47th in the fifth class, having been absent 96 half-days; in 1694 he47th in the fifth class, having been absent 96 half-days; in 1694 he lost 59 half-days, but rose to 14th and was promoted; at Easter 1695lost 59 half-days, but rose to 14th and was promoted; at Easter 1695 he was 23rd in the fourth class, in spite of having lost 103 half-dayshe was 23rd in the fourth class, in spite of having lost 103 half-days 
 
(perhaps owing to illness, but probably also to the deaths of his(perhaps owing to illness, but probably also to the deaths of his parents). He stood one or two places above his brother Jacob, whoparents). He stood one or two places above his brother Jacob, who was three years older and less frequently absent. Nothing more iswas three years older and less frequently absent. Nothing more is known about his Eisenach career; but he is said to have been anknown about his Eisenach career; but he is said to have been an unusually good treble and probably sang under Kantor A.C. Dedekindunusually good treble and probably sang under Kantor A.C. Dedekind at St Georg, where his father made instrumental music before andat St Georg, where his father made instrumental music before and after the sermon and where his relation (2) Johann Christoph Bachafter the sermon and where his relation (2) Johann Christoph Bach (13) was organist. His musical education is matter for conjecture;(13) was organist. His musical education is matter for conjecture; presumably his father taught him the rudiments of string playing, butpresumably his father taught him the rudiments of string playing, but (according to Emanuel) he had no formal tuition on keyboard(according to Emanuel) he had no formal tuition on keyboard instruments until he went to Ohrdruf. He later described Johanninstruments until he went to Ohrdruf. He later described Johann Christoph as ‘a profound composer’; no doubt he was impressed byChristoph as ‘a profound composer’; no doubt he was impressed by the latter’s organ playing as well as by his compositions.the latter’s organ playing as well as by his compositions.Elisabeth Bach was buried on 3 May 1694, and on 27 NovemberElisabeth Bach was buried on 3 May 1694, and on 27 November Ambrosius married Barbara Margaretha, née Keul, the daughter of aAmbrosius married Barbara Margaretha, née Keul, the daughter of a former mayor of Arnstadt. Aged 35, she had already been twiceformer mayor of Arnstadt. Aged 35, she had already been twice widowed. Her first husband had been a musician, Johann Güntherwidowed. Her first husband had been a musician, Johann Günther Bach (15), and her second a theologian, Jacobus Bartholomaei (bothBach (15), and her second a theologian, Jacobus Bartholomaei (both marriages had taken place in Arnstadt), and she brought to her thirdmarriages had taken place in Arnstadt), and she brought to her third marriage two little daughters, Catharina Margareta and Christinamarriage two little daughters, Catharina Margareta and Christina Maria, one by each of her earlier husbands. A month beforeMaria, one by each of her earlier husbands. A month before Ambrosiuss own second marriage, on 23 October 1694, he and hisAmbrosiuss own second marriage, on 23 October 1694, he and his family had celebrated the wedding of the eldest son, Johann Christophfamily had celebrated the wedding of the eldest son, Johann Christoph (22) in Ohrdruf. The music on that occasion was by Ambrosius Bach,(22) in Ohrdruf. The music on that occasion was by Ambrosius Bach, Johann Pachelbel from nearby Gotha and other friends and familyJohann Pachelbel from nearby Gotha and other friends and family members. This was probably the only occasion on which the then nine-members. This was probably the only occasion on which the then nine-year-old Sebastian met Pachelbel, his brother’s teacher. Barely threeyear-old Sebastian met Pachelbel, his brother’s teacher. Barely three months after re-marrying, on 20 February 1695, Ambrosius Bach diedmonths after re-marrying, on 20 February 1695, Ambrosius Bach died after a long and serious illness. On 4 March the widow appealed to theafter a long and serious illness. On 4 March the widow appealed to the town council for help; but she received only her legal due, and thetown council for help; but she received only her legal due, and the household broke up. Sebastian and Jacob were taken in by their elderhousehold broke up. Sebastian and Jacob were taken in by their elder brother Johann Christoph, organist at Ohrdruf.brother Johann Christoph, organist at Ohrdruf.Both were sent to the Lyceum. Jacob left at the age of 14 to beBoth were sent to the Lyceum. Jacob left at the age of 14 to be apprenticed to his father’s successor at Eisenach; Sebastian stayed onapprenticed to his father’s successor at Eisenach; Sebastian stayed on until 1700, when he was nearly 15, and thus came under the influenceuntil 1700, when he was nearly 15, and thus came under the influence of an exceptionally enlightened curriculum. Inspired by theof an exceptionally enlightened curriculum. Inspired by the educationist Comenius, it embraced religion, reading, writing,educationist Comenius, it embraced religion, reading, writing, arithmetic, singing, history and natural science. Sebastian entered thearithmetic, singing, history and natural science. Sebastian entered the fourth class probably about March 1695, and was promoted to thefourth class probably about March 1695, and was promoted to the third in July: on 20 July 1696 he was first among the seven new boysthird in July: on 20 July 1696 he was first among the seven new boys and fourth in the class; on 19 July 1697 he was first, and wasand fourth in the class; on 19 July 1697 he was first, and was promoted to the second class; on 13 July 1698 he was fifth; on 24 Julypromoted to the second class; on 13 July 1698 he was fifth; on 24 July 1699 second, and promoted to the first class, in which he was fourth1699 second, and promoted to the first class, in which he was fourth when he left the school on 15 March 1700 and went to Lüneburg.when he left the school on 15 March 1700 and went to Lüneburg.

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